Space Environment Physics Group, University of Southampton

Space Environment Physics Group

Job and PhD Opportunities

Job opportunities

We are not currently advertising any specific job opportunities within the group.

PhD opportunities

We have a funded PhD project which is available through SPITFIRE, which is a NERC Doctoral Training Partnership between the University of Southampton, British Antarctic Survey and others. NERC is the UK's Natural Environment Research Council.

The position is available from 1st October 2016, and the application deadline is Monday 4th January.

The objective of this project is to investigate the fine structure and dynamics of 'shock aurora', and how it can affect the upper atmosphere. The aurora is a result of energised charged particles (electrons and protons) travelling down the Earth's magnetic field lines and colliding with the neutral atmosphere. It typically occurs in ovals surrounding the magnetic poles, at latitudes of about 65-75º. The ultimate source of energy for the aurora is the continuous flow of solar wind interacting with the Earth's magnetic field. The solar wind is highly variable, with a speed of about 300-1000 km s-1 and particle concentration of about 1-10 particles cm-3. Interplanetary shocks or pressure pulses can form and travel in the solar wind, and occasionally impact upon the Earth. These impacts cause “shock aurora”, characterised as an intense brightening of the aurora which begins on the dayside (at noon) and rapidly propagates around the dawn and dusk sides of the auroral oval. If the energy of auroral particle precipitation is high enough significant ionisation can occur in the lower thermosphere and mesosphere, which can have important implications for the chemistry and climate of the region.

The position will be held in the Space Environment Physics group at the University of Southampton, supervised by Dr Daniel Whiter. SPITFIRE students receive a NERC stipend and their fees are paid.

Further details are available about the project, SPITFIRE and how to apply. Informal enquiries are welcome and encouraged – please email Dr Daniel Whiter.

PhD opportunities - general

We welcome applications for people to study for a PhD in the group, either self-funded or through a limited number of studentships that the department has to offer. We are part of the Astronomy Group, and so applicants seeking funded studentships that are allocated to the department should apply as detailed here, although informal enquiries to Dr Robert Fear, Dr Caitriona Jackman or Dr Daniel Whiter are welcome too. Please note that we do not have a funded position available every year. Students who have access to alternative means of funding should also contact us with an informal enquiry.

Anyone applying for a PhD position at Southampton should have (or expect to be awarded):

  • An upper second class Batchelor's degree (or above) from a UK university in a relavant subject, or
  • A lower second class Batchelor's degree together with a postgraduate Master's degree from a UK university in a relevant subject, or
  • An equivalent overseas qualification

Space Environment Physics Group, Room 4089, Building 46, University of Southampton, University Road, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2049 | Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2048